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Simple Goal-Setting for Personal Success

Updated on May 20, 2014

Establish Your Goals

How happy are you with your life on a scale of 1 to 10? If you are below 5 then maybe it’s time to make some changes. Another way of thinking about goals is dreams. Dreams we had when we were younger often change as our life moves on or submerge under responsibilities and pressures. Perhaps something has happened that has generated a sense of being at a crossroads. If any of these scenarios are the case perhaps it’s worth stepping away from where you are now and taking some time to think about what you want to achieve.

Give your dreams a chance to come back to the surface. Start by working through these Key goal-forming questions:

  1. What you would like to be doing in a year’s time
  2. What do you want to happen that is not happening now?
  3. What will this feel like when you get there? Picture where you will be, what you will be doing and how it will feel.
  4. In his goal-setting theory Locke (1968) said that goals should be:
    1. Specific
    2. Challenging but attainable
    3. accepted

Then do a quick reality check:

  1. Check your assumptions on where you are now, get some feedback on your prospects, think about the underlying causes.
  2. Who else is implicated in your goals, are they on board with this and what will the effects be?
  3. Does it fit in with your ethos and values – will it still be you?

The Change Curve

Change always comes with an emotional journey. Elisabeth Kublar Ross described this with the, now well know, change curve.
Change always comes with an emotional journey. Elisabeth Kublar Ross described this with the, now well know, change curve.

Change Your Career?

Often our most challenging goals are around our career. This can be because of job dissatisfaction or just that feeling that you have something else inside – the potential to do something bigger. We sometimes reach these turning points after being let go from a job. Even if your first instinct is to try to get straight back to where you were before it’s worth taking the time to consider if your life has changed, if your skills have changed, or if the work you used to do has changed. If this is the case take some extra time for a personal review to evaluate the background, motivation and justification for your future career plan:

  • Take a piece of paper and mark up three columns. You could use mind mapping method instead but which ever method you choose try writing this by hand. This will slow down and deepen your thinking. The reflexivity of the process will allow your mind to make connections you might otherwise have missed.
  • In one column write what's important to you and what has changed in your life since you started your last job. Maybe you are ready to start a family or perhaps your children are older and don’t need you as much as they used to.
  • Next write down all the things you enjoyed about the work you have done in the past, include volunteering and projects at home such as DIY projects or re-designing a garden.
  • Finally add what you think you do well, include soft skills such as listening or making people feel at ease.
  • This personal analysis will deliver best results if you pin it on the wall and live with it for a few days. Talk to your friends and family if the opportunity arises.
  • Come back to the analysis and think about what it’s telling you and where you would like to be in a year’s time.
  • Visualise yourself achieving these goals, imagine what you will be doing, what will it feel like. This will keep you motivated, positive and moving forward.

Focus On Your Destination


Make It Happen

Make It Happen

It’s time to go back to your visualisation. Imagine yourself achieving your goal - coming out of an interview with a smile on your face or perhaps working for yourself:

  • If you were looking back after achieving your goals, what would you have needed to do to get there? These are the steps that will form your plan. Write them on the left-hand side of a big piece of paper.
  • Research each step. If it isn’t within your control you may have break it down further or investigate alternatives. Add any information you find out next to each step in a second column.
  • Add phone numbers, website addresses and names of any useful people in the third column. In a fourth column put estimated dates on the first three steps.
  • Enlist your family or friends as motivational coaches. They can encourage you when you are disheartened, look out for opportunities or help with studying. This will also have the effect of involving them and maintaining closeness. Significant life changes can often be deal-breakers in relationships when one partner feels left behind.

So now you have a plan, you are good to go! Finally be prepared to work hard on your goals. Opportunities don’t always fall at our feet and successful people have usually had to re-prioritize or make sacrifices to get there.



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    • Allyson Cardis profile image

      Allyson Cardis 3 years ago from Gloucestershire, England

      Thank you Patsybell, that means a lot.

    • Patsybell profile image

      Patsy Bell Hobson 3 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

      Some real things to think about. It just happened that I needed to hear this today. Voted up, U, I, tweet, Pin

    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      The Stages Of ME 4 years ago

      you hubs will be helpful to many I am sure :)